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Revealed Preferences of the Criminal Justice System During a Period of Workload Shedding, Report No. II: National Survey of Police Departments

NCJ Number
Date Published
63 pages
This second of a three-part report focuses on police workload shedding under budget restraints, particularly in the areas of patrol practices, alternative response strategies, and the use of civilian employees.
Using the 175 respondents from an earlier survey as the starting point, this study analyzed survey material mailed to police departments in 187 cities with populations of at least 100,000 and to 44 county police departments with at least 500 employees. The overall response rate was 71.4 percent. A total of 97.5 percent of responding departments used one-officer cars, with 40-50 percent of them reporting at least 90 percent one-officer cars. The use of one-officer cars is flexible; Detroit, for example, uses them at 42 percent during daylight shifts, and reduces their use to 18 percent during evening hours and 7 percent at nighttime. A 'Chi-Square Goodness of Fit' analysis shows the fraction of one-officer cars is independent of population and calls-for-service; it is inversely proportional to population density. The survey yielded no evidence that one-officer cars are less safe than two-officer cars. The percentage of service calls handled by alternative means (e.g., phone reports, walk-in reports, mail-in reports, and scheduled responses) has increased dramatically between 1978 and 1982. The departments with high per-officer workload tend to make greater use of telephone reports without patrol response. There is also an increasing trend toward using civilian police employees. These civilians are assuming an increasingly wider range of police responsibilities. In more than 35 percent of the departments, civilians respond to service calls, sometimes without an accompanying uniformed officer. Tabular data are provided, and the survey instrument is appended.